Packers cornerback Tramon Williams had a game to forget on Sunday.
Looking like he wanted nothing to do with Adrian Peterson and his violent running style, the Vikings exploited this weakness by running right at Tramon again, and again, and again. 199 yards later for Peterson, the Vikings handed the Packers a 37-34 defeat, ending their hopes for a first round bye, and setting the stage for a rematch between the two teams Saturday night at Lambeau Field.
More of the same is to be expected by the Vikings on Saturday. You cannot stop Peterson-you can only hope to slow him down. And the Vikings exploited Williams as the one player on the Packers who seemed timid to attack in an effort to slow down the Peterson train.
Last night on Cheesehead Radio, we discussed the struggles of Tramon Sunday against the Vikings. One of the ideas that was proposed was whether the time has come to bench him, based on his play against Peterson. While the idea of taking a former Pro Bowl player off the field in a playoff game may seem like crazy talk, anyone who saw Sunday’s game would agree that Tramon looked like anything but a Pro Bowler. During the regular season, especially after a playoff birth had been achieved, it may be acceptable to keep a struggling player on the field. During the playoffs, this player could cost your team the chance to advance.
There is one player which makes this idea a very real possibility: Charles Woodson. The return of Woodson to the Packers defense opens up many different personnel options for Dom Capers this go around. Never one to shy away from contact, Woodson should be anxious to get that first good stick out of the way after nine weeks on the sidelines. The Packers desperately need someone to show they are not afraid to go up against Peterson. Also,while not nearly as fast as he once was, Woodson can still cover from the slot, and this opens up the reality for a Williams on the bench scenario.
If Williams is indeed going to shy from contact, why would Capers not start Sam Shields and Casey Hayward on the outside. Both are fast enough to work on the outside, and willing tacklers. While this would remove Hayward from the slot position, this is where Woodson comes into play. He can take over the spot Hayward has vacated, and by doing do, the Packers have their two key play makers in the secondary on the field at the same time.
So where does this leave Williams? Obviously none of the above players can play every down. Williams could act as a swing cornerback if this idea were to actually take place. What better sub than a struggling former Pro Bowler to come on the field and spell someone? Sub packages could very easily incorporate Williams, theoretically improving with him in them.
One of the arguments against this idea is the playoff experience Williams has and brings to the field. However, playoff experience means very little if that player is not willing to cover and tackle. Whether Williams agrees with this idea should not matter. Egos need to be put aside when a Super Bowl run is the target.
While this idea does leave M.D. Jennings or Jerron McMillian the field at the one Safety position by moving Woodson down, it would leave Woodson and Hayward on the field at the same time. One can only hope Capers pressures Christian Ponder enough to get to him where this possible weak spot in the Packers defense could be exploited.
If Capers is indeed a mad scientist, this chemistry mix might be the right formula for success against the Vikings Saturday night.